4.25.2012

online sample sale + business musings

online sample sale
Wiksten is having a small online sample sale next Wednesday, May 2.  Majorly reduced prices on one-of-a-kind items.  Pictured above are a few of the pieces that will be for sale.  There will only be about 6 items up for grabs, and they will all be size M.

I'm still doing a spring/summer collection, which will be available in June.  It's a very scaled down version of what I wanted to do, but sometimes life just gets in the way, you know?  I was a little heartbroken about it at first, but I've since come to terms with it and am grateful to be doing any collection at all.  One of the reasons for my initial disappointment was that this is probably going to be my last real ready-to-wear collection.

Here's the deal: I've been frustrated with my clothing line for awhile now.  I love designing but don't get to do much of that.  I'm so busy sewing, packing orders, and running my shop that I don't have time to create.  It's always been important for me to make the garments myself, but since I'm the only one sewing I can't make enough garments to supply the demand.  My business model is one that always results in disappointed customers as well as me being overworked.  I've thought about outsourcing the work to a factory, but I believe that isn't work that I would enjoy.  I have friends who do this, and I know how it goes.  I don't want to spend my time managing production.  It's just not for me.

In the meantime, my sewing pattern business is booming.  Turns out making sewing patterns is a better way to make a living than sewing garments.  Thus my pattern business has kind of taken over my life and given me even less time for the clothing line.  And the sewing patterns bring it all back around to what this is really about.  The idea of making!  People making things!  Not a factory making things that we buy.  (Not that there's anything wrong with that.  I love many factory-made garments that I own.  Handmade is what really excites me though, what I'm passionate about.)  I'm crazy about the fact that people everywhere my age are sewing.  It's cool to sew again.  Amen.  There's nothing like that feeling of wearing something that you made yourself or that someone special made for you.

So while my business is growing faster than ever, that involves some changes and growing pains.  Having a clothing line was always my dream.  But you know what?  My head is full of dreams.  Always has been, always will be.  I'm excited to try out some new things.  Starting in July, when all my work deadlines are over, I'm going to take a couple of weeks off and just start over.  I'll write a super kick-ass business plan, reorganize, and recharge.  Maybe hire an employee?  I'm still going to continue to sell my own patterns and handmade goods from other designers in my shop, and I'm sure I'll still sell some of my own knitted and home goods and the occasional limited edition ready-to-wear dress.  And there will be collaborations.  But changes are happening.  I can't wait.

78 comments:

emily said...

jennyyy! i know we're not actually old pals but i feel like we are and i just wanted to say congratulations!

i bought the tova pattern a while back and it was such a straight forward easy pattern to follow. probably one of the most well-made garments i've ever sewn and that had so much to do with how good the pattern was. probably not an easy decision to come to but i think that you'll be so successful in this pursuit :)

emily xo

infusionfibers said...

Changes can be tough, but definitely also exciting - especially in the realm of pursuing your dreams. I can totally relate to the challenge. It's so gratifying, yet so challenging to run your own business. Making things by hand takes a lot of time. And the rest of business takes even more time. Excited for you, that you are ready to try a new way of doing things.

Stephanie Hillberry said...

I relate so much to what you are going through. I experienced a similar epiphany when I was making products to sell and discovered that selling digital tutorials was a much better model for both me and the customer. So much of operating a business seems to be learning how to evolve. Best of luck to you as you restructure--

Warmly,
Stephanie H. at stephaniehillberry.com

Jessa said...

So excited for you! Life takes twists and turns and is ever changing. Sounds like you know exactly what to do with those twists and turns. I'm excited for more patterns and the opportunity to hand create for myself. Keep up with your amazing talent!

Jeanne said...

How bittersweet. I am exciting to see what you develop next. Whatever it is, it will be totally and completely awesome!

Samantha said...

I'm happy to hear that your business seems to be evolving into something unexpected but enjoyable. It's one of the craziest things about running your own business. My own freelancing career is so much different than it was when I started, and it's never stopped surprising me.

Best of luck for July! And I'm excited for potentially more patterns!

Alison said...

As a reader who has followed your blog for quite some time, I have to say yay!(?) because while I can't afford to buy your ready to wear clothes, I have read your blog for inspiration and ideas for my own sewing. I have spent plenty of time trying to dissect your designs and figure out how to make them on my own so I was thrilled when you started selling your patterns! I hope you sell more patterns because I love them and it is wonderful to see what other people make with them as well. I wish you the best of luck and can't wait to see what you do next. Alison in St. Louis, MO

julia said...

hear hear! you're awesome jenny, and i know you're going to be great at whatever direction you go in. i'm proud that you decided to not to get your items made by other people & do production, because, that's not what this is all about! it's about making!!! high five to you! :)

mjb said...

I'm encouraged by how excited people are about making their own clothes, too, and your patterns open that up in a great way! Way to be flexible with your business...and I can't wait to see what else you have up your sleeve.

k. wang said...

hear hear! maybe it's the season, or year, or something, but it seems like everywhere i look people are changing, plotting change, excited about change, and/or contemplating changing (for the better). there are some things i can't say given that this is public domain, but i'm looking forward to the day that i too can give overworking and under-fulfillment a break and just take some time off to travel, make ice cream, and just generally reconnect with things that matter to me. i remember you having written previously that you dislike change, but i think how you've embraced change as a driving force behind moving forward is really admirable. keep doing what you're doing girl, lots of people love what you do so you've gotta be doing something right!

C. said...

How exciting!! I've been following along with your blog for years now Jenny, I agree with the first poster who said we feel like old friends. :)

I'm so thrilled for you that you have a new direction and are excited about it!

erica said...

i think this is great, really truly!...but i can't help but feel a little sorry for myself because i can't sew and don't really have the time to learn right now. i have been trying to make my own 'patterns' and hand-sewing simple things like pants for leon and elias, but mama needs new clothes, too! i'm glad you aren't going the factory route, though...! i hope you have something fun planned for your little break.

Amy said...

Admirable decision - taking care of yourself and making sure your vision is still true to you. Your designs are so excellent and I drink up the details and beautiful textiles you choose, but so far buying anything you've made has been out of my reach. A few weeks ago I finally bought a pattern (the tank) and taught myself how to sew. The "practice" tank turned out beautifully, and the Tova pattern is next on my list. By far the best directions I've encountered yet, and I really appreciated the French seam finish. I want to use French seams on everything! So, I eagerly await more patterns from you and wish you luck with your new business plan.

Also... Perhaps you might consider selling a few fabric bundles or kits to go along with patterns. You always find the most beautiful prints. Though I can see how that could be a messy idea.

Julie D. said...

i'm so excited to see what is in store! i for one have never been able to purchase one of your beautiful garments, but i have made 4 of the tanks/dresses and they are among my very favorite articles of clothing and are worn weekly! good luck with the recharge!

k. wang said...

oh! and totally forgot this portion of my comment. not sure if you're already contemplating this, but any plans of offering fabric in wiksten prints in the future? would be lovely to reupholster an old chair or sew some pillows in some wiksten prints. :)

shara said...

Congratulations on making a tough decision! I really admire that you've been able to identify the aspects of your work you love, and that you made the decision to focus in on that. Congratulations again!

in dreams said...

congrats! i'm sure this wasn't an easy choice to make, but i think i know where you're coming from, and if you're not doing what you love, then you have every right in the world to pull back and change direction. :) (though of course i'm excited to see what you come up with next!)

owo said...

been a fan of your blog and clothing for awhile and your new life developments sound exciting. i like seeing the sentence, "my sewing pattern business is booming". i hope you put out a pattern for the cut out sleeve top. i really loved that shirt and wished i had bought it. good luck!

UNIFORM natural said...

fantastic! So excited for you.
also breathing a big sigh of relief for you - this sounds like an excellent direction and one that is a natural extension of what you do so well. and less stressful!
xo

Lissa said...

Jenny, this excites me to no end. You are such an amazing creator, and I feel like this will give so many more people the ability to experience that. I will probably never sew a pattern from anyone else again. Can't wait!

Hope you get the time off you deserve. It would be weird to follow you (again) to Iowa, right?!

Amanda said...

This is very exciting. And I have to say that I would probably buy any and every pattern you produced if you did go more in that direction. My budget is so limited that I can't pay for handmade clothes, as much as I'd like to, but I can afford the time to make my own. And your patterns are my absolute favorite. Last summer I wore either a Wiksten tank or Tova top pretty much every day...

Whitney Deal said...

thank you for being an inspiration jenny! i know your struggles, but i truly believe that one circumstance leads us to the next. and i still wear my tova shirt that i made in class all the time! good luck on your shifts and your growth :)

giboulee said...

Yes, sewing is quite tiring.. good luck with your new project!
And by the way, I saw a copy of your Andrada Ikat dress in this summer's Gap collection... =(

Roseann said...

This post is truly inspiring. Thank you for staying true to yourself and for sharing it with your readers.

welliewalks said...

I totally hear you! Years ago, I sewed baby clothing for shops, but I realized that I was making about $2 an hour. It was a passion...until it wasn't quite worth it. I love your patterns- just made 2 tanks for my daughter that she loves (after 2 last summer and 2 for me too)- says she just wants a summer wardrobe of them and so do I! Tova is well used also! I'd love to see more patterns- the things you make are AMAZING and so inspiring!! We will be cheering for whatever you decide to do!

Jennette said...

You are allowed to grow and change and take new paths! In fact, you could even wander around in the woods for a while (not that you sound directionless). Give yourself space and time. We're all working things out, always.

I miss you! Wish you were still in the neighborhood so we could chat about all this in person. Love to Joe.

patrickstar said...

best of luck as you restructure! i recently got back into sewing b/c i was inspired by your clothes and patterns. and after a 15 year hiatus from sewing, managed to put together 3 wiksten tanks which have gotten rave reviews at work. thank you for being an inspiration!

alittleprint said...

I'm echoing many people here as a first time poster who is very excited at the prospect of more patterns being offered. I was never quick enough to purchase one of your ready to wear pieces, or have the funds to do so, but I've bought both your patterns and been delighted to have a little piece of wiksten. I've been hankering after the Anna dress and admiring its construction for months. I really appreciate your commitment to quality and for not compromising your ethic, it's so rare these days.

elizabeth said...

As someone who is trying to make a go of a career in clothing design I can completely relate to everything you're saying here. Personally, my business model is a mess and I'm constantly feeling strained creatively, emotionally, physically, financially... you name it. I'm inspired by your strength and bravery in standing up to yourself(!), re-imagining your creative goals and making room in your life for things other than your work. I'm terrified that I don't yet know how to do that for myself. Congratulations and I look forward to seeing the changes you make over the coming months.

Anna McClurg said...

Way to go, Jenny! Sometimes it's good to re-charge and re-think why you're doing what you're doing. And sometimes that means starting again from scratch. I think that is brilliant! I want to make patterns eventually, but I haven't had any time to devote to it right now. But I can see how you could have more time to devote to the creative side and less the production (I kind of loath the production end...quite frankly!). Although I love to sew, I can definitely see myself moving in the same direction as you. You really are a big inspiration to me, Jenny! I think everything that you do is fabulous! That day we got together at the mall made me really think about what I've been doing. xoxo

Leah said...

I am so excited about the possibility of more Wiksten patterns! I love my Tovas and Witsken tanks, and I just keep making more. Enjoy some regrouping time, and I look forward to seeing what you do next!
Leah

stephanie renee said...

first off i am really excited for your sale, hoping i am fast enough to get that chambray dress. will be perfect for breast feeding. secondly, i really enjoyed reading this post. wish i could be more open like this. in the process of still rethinking my business too and excited to see where it takes me.

Sheryl said...

Jenny, In the last month I have made a tulip skirt, 2 tank's and 2 tova's and i have worn all of them loads of times already. Your patterns are easy to follow and your instructions make me feel that you are right there, sewing along with me. You have a great talent there and if you can develop that so that we can all share in a bit of Wiksten then you will make a lot of people very apply! (I, for one, am always happy when I'm sewing!) good luck in everything Jenny

jennifer said...

How exciting, Jenny! While I'll definitely miss seeing your beautiful clothing creations, I can't wait to see what awesome new directions your business will take. Good luck, lady! We are all rooting for you!

joyce said...

although sad for me (because i don't sew), i'm really excited for you. sometimes starting afresh is the best thing you can do for yourself. good luck with everything!!

CassieMarie said...

Sounds like you are choosing a great path, I can't wait to see the new patterns that are a result of this new direction. It is my dream that you would put out a sewing/knitting pattern book. :)

As far as restructuring goes, I can totally relate. I've been going over my own business model (I am a painter) and I am moving more and more in the direction of selling prints instead of originals. This way more people can afford to have a piece of my work, and I don't have to carry so much workload all by myself!

Best of luck, I look forward to you sharing your process with us. :)

-Cassie

metrode said...

congratulations & good luck with this! it sounds like a lot of work and dedication, but very, very exciting.. I'm happy for you :)

P R I M O E Z A said...

this sounds so wonderful jenny! i love that you're forging your own path and can't wait to see the next phase of wiksten as it unfolds.

Ann said...

I can't wait either!

erica-knits said...

I'm so excited about your new direction! I think patterns are an absolutely wonderful way to reach the most people with your vision. I have your tank pattern and I'm just dying for Karyn to offer a class at the workroom on it!

Best of luck with your new venture! Have I told you that you do the best handknits, too? I'm always in awe.

Eva / Sycamore Street Press said...

Jenny, My friend Claire (I think she might be a friend of yours, too? The Australian/Canadian?) told me about your line way back when, and I've been wanting to buy something from it ever since. I was always too slow on the uptake, though! I should have been more alert. :) Anyways, as a fellow small creative business owner, I really appreciated reading this post. There are so many decision to be made, and sometimes we come to unexpected conclusions. But those conclusions are usually the right ones! Taking two weeks off to just think about things and figure things out sounds amazing, and like just the thing to do. I wish you the best with everything.

nicole said...

I love that your head is full of dreams. I love that you are brave enough to recognize that a change is what you need. I love that you are going to be designing more patterns! Especially since I have recently decided that I want to make all my own clothes, so this is perfect timing for me :)

Yay Jenny, for being true to yourself.

Chau said...

Hi Jenny,

So excited for you. I'm sure making that decision took a lot of guts and honest reflection. We're all rooting for ya. Now I just need to learn how to sew :) Wishing you all the best!

leFiligree said...

i love this idea--you will do well! go for it :)

Jo said...

Sounds like a great idea. I know any people struggle to make enough garments themselves to sell but don't want to go to factory production. Personally I'd love to see you design more patterns, I've enjoyed making the Tova and think you have a lovely sense of style. Good luck!

handmade romance said...

Congratulation, you will make the right decision for you. I look forward to seeing your path unfold. I have one of your sewing patterns and love it to pieces!! So I would be thrilled if I could learn to sew more of your wonderful designs and knowing that you are designing more and doing what you enjoy most would be awesome too! Yay for you x

k said...

sounds like you are heading in a good direction. i can understand the cycles that we all get into, trying to do so many things and not having the time to devote to what you really enjoy. i hope this evolution will put you in a happier place where you can create what you love and maybe still have a bit of time to relax too!

phanclub4 said...

I just wanted to say, ever since I stumbled on your blog a year or so ago (and I think I might've read all of your posts), it has inspired me to sew and really shaped how my sense of style is today (so thank you!). I always enjoyed your posts and marveled over the things you created.
It's been a journey, hasn't it - I hope your future endeavors bring you greater joys and I'm excited to see what's next! Best of luck <3

runfoyolife said...

I love your patterns, so this is exciting news for me! I can't wait!

Stephanie said...

sounds like a beautiful ending, and a fun new beginning :)

I've just loved sewing your patterns and then wearing your designs so I heartily commend this new approach. I can't wait to see what comes out of it!

All the best in the coming months Jenny x

Inge said...

Thanks to a tweet from you, I too am now reading Brené Brown's book and recognize a lot of what you're saying here and in your earlier easter hike post as the thoughts brought on by a new insight. I think it's a very good thing to analyze ourselves and our lives and it seems like it's really helping you to be honest about your work and what you love. Good luck with all you choose to do and thanks for the great book recommendation.

vanessa said...

Hi Jenny,

I really applaud your decision and your positivity in taking this step away from ready to wear and towards more designing and sharing of your patterns. I am not saying this as someone who has never been able to afford one of your dresses, but as someone who enjoys seeing creativity and inspiration being passed on and shared. You have already inspired many sewers and makers with your blog, patterns, and lifestyle, so i am excited to see you take this one as a business plan. Best of luck and enjoy the summer break. Vanessa

teanotea said...

I really admire your clothing and the patterns look wonderful. If you are choosing to focus on patterns, I hope you consider adding more to the top end of your current size range. I'd love to be able to make some of these for myself.

Léah said...

Hi Jenny, As one of your former sewing class students and someone who also works on my own business, I just wanted to let you know how much I love your patterns and both admire and am inspired by the work you create. I can't wait to see what you make next (and would love to see more patterns.) You helped sewing become accessible to me, a knitter at heart, and taught me how awesome homemade garment can be. Enjoy the process! Can't wait to read more!

Modern Crush said...

Jenny, I am totally bummed for you, but at the same time very excited for the future of Wiksten made. I've been following your blog for years, since way back when. I could totally see you doing patterns and designing fabric to go with your patterns! That would be amazing :)

karyn said...

Whatever you decide to do, I'm sure you will continue to inspire us in so many ways. Your sewing patterns are a dream to work with and so well done. I'm not a bit surprised that they are a booming part of your business. I know you will find a good balance between the creative aspect and the production aspect of what you do. Just keep following your heart, Jenny! xo

Nandi said...

This sounds wonderful and challenging all at the same time! I don't remember when I first ran across your blog, but I think I started following along more closely when you moved to Iowa. It has been so lovely to follow along! I have my own small clothing business and love the handmade aspect of it, but find it challenging to support myself only by selling clothing. I've taught some sewing and dyeing classes and have thought about making patterns to sell but don't know how to go about it. Maybe in the future you would consider teaching some sort of class in that vein? wink wink :) I live in Iowa, so Iowa City isn't that far from where I live. Hope this isn't too forward! Anyways, best of luck to you, Jenny on your new adventures!
Best, Nandi

Marginamia said...

Oh, Jenny! Wow.

1. I am glued to my computer opening day in June.

2. I can not wait to see what's in store with this change. Your patterns totally motivated me to start sewing, a motivation which has resulted in a mostly handmade wardrobe for the girls this summer (and a new hobby I can hardly pull myself away from. poor, poor Chris.) How many more people can tell a similar story? a lot, i bet. and a lot more to come now. Kudos!

3. I'm really starting to believe in this Year of the Dragon stuff: bold changes, positive moves, course-changing courage, etc. Something is in the air, for sure.

4. Finally, and most importantly: Congratulations; I'm so excited for you; and I hope your time off and new direction bring you all you need and deserve!

M said...

Good luck. What exciting news. I love your patterns and hope there will be many more. I will miss your sewing though. Your level of perfection, like the crazy-perfect matched gingham on my tova shirt, is not something I have seen elsewhere. But I admire you embracing change. Looking forward to see what you do next. Marianne

Asteff said...

This is really exciting! I have never bought any of your ready-to-wear stuff, but will definitely be a regular pattern purchaser.

Jennifer said...

Jenny I read your post wanted to help. I read a book that really changed the way I look at my business it's called the E Myth. It's helped me see what I needed to do to get to the point where I can do my "dream work". Pick it up it will change your life. I have nothing to do with the E Myth program so I get nothing ether way. If you have any questions just ask ok.

jenny gordy said...

Jennifer, I have read the E Myth! Twice. And I'm in the middle of one of his other books right now too. I'm actually super interested in business strategy and stuff like that.

jen said...

I'm excited for more patterns! Please consider selling the pattern for your Lena dress. I will buy it in a second! xo

alice said...

This is so exciting! I have been following your blog for over a year and was JUST thinking- Man I wish Wiksten sold dress patterns. I was thinking of emailing you with an appeal! Talk about the universe coming together. I love your designs but I cannot yet afford to invest in handmade dresses, but I love to try to sew myself.

Amen to homemade- you are a true inspiration and I love looking at your blog when I am feeling antsy while making something- your site exudes calm and care. Thanks for doing what you do and I can't wait to see what comes next.

Jeannie said...

Soo great to hear your thoughts, honest and true! hooray for possibly more Wikstenmade patterns!!!

Grace said...

Hey Jenny, I fully support your decision! I love your patterns and I've always been a wee bit dissapointed that your RTW hasn't been available in my size, so I am excited about the prospect of seeing more of your work make it's way into my sewing room. Good luck!

elena gold said...

Hi Jenny,

You are brave and true. I loved reading this and wish you the very best with this new stage for Wiksten. You inspire me in the way you follow your heart. Truly. I am in the beginning stages of starting a little knitwear pattern company, and you give me a dose of courage. And I am selfishly thrilled you will be continuing the patterns, yippee!

Jade said...

jenny, so inspired and charged for your new beginning! kudos to you for following and making your own path. i will try to clench my iphone on 5/2 in attempts to score something beautiful from your sample sale! excited for what's ahead.

Carla said...

Hi Jenny, I'm looking forward to new great patterns among other things in the future. I always feel inspired when reading your blog, so thank you for your honesty. I was sorry to hear about your cat.

hibou said...

Yours is the blog I love the most. Like the 700 commenters above, I'm excited to see what's in store! Thanks for bringing us along!

Stacy said...

Good for you Jenny. I had to make the same choice a few years ago. Things were growing so fast I couldn't keep up and I didn't have the resources (home sew vs factory, access to quality textiles, time to create). I stepped back and started up my blog and have gone back to smaller scale - and custom - what it was when I started.

giselaandzoe said...

I can't wait to see the patterns you create! Actually one of the biggest unknown secrets by new fashion designer students is that the technical aspect of garment making is where there is a more steady career..aka pattern makers which every company needs and pays allot for very experienced ones. Most are not told this but you later learn while your in this industry that it's so. I think if I would of known this ahead of time I would of gotten my degree in pattern making and eventually experience gets you down the fashion designer career path. But at home learning is always possible and pattern making is an art you need to constantly work on. I always knew I would go down the out sourcing path when it came to my collection, but did romanticize on being a one man shop. But like you stated it's all about the time and trying to run design business. Creating is my passion too but you are creating the blue print for the garment itself, so best wishes on your endeavor!

Rosalind said...

bring on more sewing patterns x

betty jordan wester said...

i'm really excited about your patterns! Good uck with everything :D

maevemade said...

I'm so excited to see more patterns from you! You're tank is one of my favorites (I've made it 3 times already :) Good luck and I'm looking forward to where you will take your business!

maevemade said...

I'm so excited for new patterns from you! Your tank is one of my favorites (I've made it 3 times already :) Good luck, I look forward to more amazing things to come from you.

Kara said...

Hi! As another longtime reader but never customer, I'm so excited for this. I've never been able to afford any of your RTW pieces, but I do have a sewing machine and I totally plan to buy your patterns. The only thing is I won't be able to source all your lovely fabrics, but I think I'll manage! (Or perhaps, as someone suggested ahead of me, you'd consider also selling fabrics?) Either way - good luck on everything ahead, and I'll be eagerly awaiting your lovely patterns :)

Michelle said...

way to go. It feels goof to follow your gut doesn't it! I am sending you good vibes :)